Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys - OPTIONAL

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, 512 pgs. Philomel Books, 2019. $19.

Language: G (no swears); Mature Content: PG (alcohol consumption); Violence: PG-13 (a fight and fatal shooting).



1950s Spain under the control of Francisco Franco is a new experience for Daniel who has just arrived from Texas with his parents. A recent high school graduate, he is eager to take advantage of his father’s business trip to learn about the country of his mother’s birth and build his photography portfolio for his chosen future career as a photojournalist. As he travels around Madrid, he will meet a motley collection of people who are experiencing Spain in vastly different ways. Love, lies, and fascist control will lead to their lives intersecting with consequences that will span the decades.

After publishing several intriguing and notable historical novels, the latest from Ruta Sepetys is a disappointment. Franco’s Spain in the 1950s is not a time well understood by young adults, and the author does little to give the necessary background to sufficiently explain what non-historians need to know in order to create interest in the story. The book is overstuffed with too many characters resulting in none of them being properly developed. Along with the glut of characters, there are so many plot threads that overlap, pull apart, and then are left hanging that the reader will have insufficient material to engage with. The reader will be left frustrated with resolutions to the myriad of plots reliant on ridiculous coincidence and maudlin expressions of emotion. That said, a teenage romance and bit of intrigue could possibly be enough to engage some young readers.

Reviewer: AEB

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